Day Nine--Kyoto to Miyajima

Miyajima Travel Blog

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shikansen

It was still raining this morning and had grown even colder during the night! I am really glad I brought my mittens and scarf! We left Kyoto under a forlorn sky which probably fit my mood since I’d really gotten to like Kyoto. It was just the right size for me, like a miniature Tokyo!

We took the Shinkansen past Osaka and Kobe and stopped for a few hours at Himeji Castle before we headed to our final destination of Miyajima Island. As far as castles go, at least the ones I’ve seen in England and Ireland, this one has taken the cake. It was huge! I was very impressed by its size and its architecture as it towered over the city with a commanding presence.

doing what we do best. Waiting in a line.
Since it was perched on a hill, from the very top of the castle you could see far in every direction, all the way out to the sea! It was a superb defensive location for a castle, which was why it was surprising to learn that that castle had never had to be used for that purpose. I suppose if I was someone attacking and I knew that those in the castle could see me coming from miles off, I might be discouraged from attacking as well. I bet that was sort of disappointing at the time since so much care had bee taken to outfit the castle to be prepared for a siege. All the windows were slotted so as to protect archers and gunners whilst they fire their weapons, they had large storage areas for keeping tons of gunpowder, etc.

Someone in our group wondered where the inhabitants of the castle slept as there were no apparent bedchambers like you would find in European castles.

First Sakura blossoms! in January! Himeji Castle
Nadean and I were quick to say that since they were Japanese, they more than likely slept on futons that were picked up each day. Also, samurai usually all slept in the same room as a matter of security and as a way to build camaraderie. I knew this from one of my favorite anime, Peacemaker, which is about the Shisengumi at the end of the Tokugawa era. I think there was also a separate structure where the royalty dwelled.

One of the most interesting things about the castle was all the stories about it being haunted! I would have liked to have spent the night in the castle to see if any of the stories were true! It seemed that every structure within the castle walls had some sort of tale about death and hauntings. Another interesting thing to note was that a lot of the stones used to build the castle were not just any old stones. Many were donated by the locals, even from the stone laterns one finds at shrines, and the strangest of all, stone coffins! I wonder if there were still people inside those coffins when they were mortared into place?

We climbed the stairs all the way to the top��"what a climb!��"and signed the guestbook there before looking out at the city from all the different angles and heading back down the stairs to explore the rest of the castle grounds.

Dr. Yang giving a speech to which he ended with "My legs are numb" if you knew Dr. Yang, you'd know why this was hilarious.
Another cold front must have blustered through while we were inside because if we were chilly before, we were absolutely freezing then! After exploring a bit, we got really cold and ran across the street to the shops to get warm. This was kind of a dubious thing though since all the shops had people standing outside of them shouting out, advertising their wares and trying to get us to buy things. Inside one of the stores a lady handed me a cup of tea before I could say no��"black bean tea! It wasn’t very good at all! So then I had to wander around the store with that taste in my mouth until finally I found a trash can to throw away the rest of the tea.

Our group reassembled a while after that and tried to keep warm until it was time to go to the train station and continue on to Hiroshima.

dinner
From Hiroshima we had to take a local train to get to miyajimaguchi where we had to take a ferry across the water to Miyajima Island where our lodge was. The skies had finally cleared up a bit giving the sunset over the water and mountains a beautiful spin.

The island itself is very pretty and cute but hard to navigate on the first try! We wandered through the emptying shopping arcade with all of our luggage and that path took us the long way to our lodge. There were tons of shops though and I look forward to getting a bit of shopping done! Especially at the 1,050 yen shop!

At last we finally got to the lodge and got our rooms but Nadean and I accidently got Sensei’s room which was a western styled room when we were supposed to have a Japanese styled one.

The girls
We switched after dinner and I was excited to get to sleep on Futons again!  When I get my own place I think I’d like to get a Japanese styled futon to sleep on, it would definitely save space!

The main event of the evening was dinner itself��"an elegant Japanese styled dinner! It was really elaborate and had a bunch of different little dishes. Unfortunately I couldn’t eat much of it because I’m a vegetarian and almost everything involved meat and fish. I really really enjoyed the experience though, but it was one of those things I wouldn’t want to do again because I felt really bad for not being able to eat most of it and letting it go to waste. I was also sorry that I was the only one not of age so that the rest of the group couldn’t have Sake with the meal.

After dinner a bunch of us hung out in the lobby of the third floor and swapped travelling stories which I always enjoy doing.

the guys
We also tried to prepare ourselves for what we knew was coming tomorrow, the trip to Hiroshima and the peace park there.

 

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shikansen
shikansen
doing what we do best. Waiting in …
doing what we do best. Waiting in…
First Sakura blossoms! in January!…
First Sakura blossoms! in January…
Dr. Yang giving a speech to which …
Dr. Yang giving a speech to which…
dinner
dinner
The girls
The girls
the guys
the guys
the view from the ferry
the view from the ferry
Our room in Miyajima! so comfy!
Our room in Miyajima! so comfy!
Miyajima
photo by: liekevo